Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kitty problem

Our two cats, Sammi and Minnie, met for the first time during a visit by Sister A. from her then-home in another town. It was not a success, to say the least--they hissed and spat at each other the whole time. We were discouraged from repeating that experiment, so since the cats would never meet again, no problem.

Back in April, though, life happened and A. & Sammi came to live with me & Minnie. Again, the cats hissed and spat at each other. But it was a stressful time, after all, so we hoped they'd eventually get over it and become, if not BFFs, at least tolerant of each other. About two months later, when A. and I bought the larger house together, we figured it would help the feline situation since the cats would be able to give each other a wide berth and still have plenty of individual perching, napping, and playing space. With time, we thought, things would improve between our two pets. So after the move and merging of food and the accompanying messy-poop problems were over with, we decided to let the cats just duke it out until they came to terms with each other.

Not only have they not mellowed toward each other, their hissing & spitting has escalated to short-lived but genuine fights as Sammi has gradually become an outright bully toward Minnie. Poor Minnie slinks around the house trying to stay out of Sammi's way, and Sammi lurks beside doorways waiting to leap out at her. And yesterday evening, I discovered a small wound in Minnie's backside--the work of Sammi's claws, no doubt. No wonder Minnie's so desperate to get outside despite the cold snap!

Letting them sort things out between them has obviously not worked, and we're not sure what to do next. We are not taking the offending bully to the animal shelter--you animal-lovers all know what the result would be. I want A. to be able to keep her kitty (who can be really sweet when she wants to) not only because she loves Sammi, but because one of the things her ex was pissy about was her relationship with her cat--like that took anything away from him!--and she briefly considered giving up Sammi in order to pacify him, which totally made me nuts. (I don't put up with BS from men anymore, anyway, and his jealousy of a cat was just too stupid for words.) I do not want me or mine to be the cause of her finally losing her pet. But both Minnie and Sammi were one-per-household cats before A. and I moved in together; it may be that they can't--or won't--change at this point in their lives.

In any case, aggression will no longer be tolerated. If Sammi tries to get in Minnie's face (as, indeed, she did this morning), we will immediately get in Sammi's face. Sammi was sure surprised this morning when A. plucked her off the potential battlefield, set her in a chair, and held her there until she simmered down! (And in the meantime, Minnie escaped to her cat tree in my bedroom.)

Knowing that Minnie can't even be comfortable in her own home is distressing to both myself and A. If anyone knows of a way to get these two fightin' felines to get along, we'd sure love to hear it. In the meantime, I guess we'll just have to be vigilant in breaking up assaults before they happen.

"Can't we all just get along?"


Thumper said...

Have you tried Feliway or Rescue Remedy? Some of the cat bloggers swear by it, supposedly helps calm them down and does a lot to get kitties to get along.

sunflowerlady said...

I have a friend who keeps a spray bottle of water handy and just gives her cat a quick spray when she does something unacceptable. No drenching, just enough to make the kitty want to be elsewhere.

What about declawing?

las794 said...

NO declawing--no way. We will try the squirt-bottle, though.

Shaggy, Scooby and Scout said...

They probably should have been introduced gradually rather than tossed together immediately, where one cat is kept confined to a limited area and they can scent each other out first then gradually meet in longer & longer sessions. If this could still be done, somehow, keep the cats seperated to their own territory (bedroom, basement...) and only come together when you are both there till they become more used to sharing a home. Right now I have a problem with our youngest cat Scout age 5. He is trying to gain dominant cat status from Shaggy who is alpha cat. Scooby is vary passive and Scout attacks him constantly too. He & Shaggy are both 10. Scout is such a brat, he's punctured Scooby backside before too. Keep an eye on any broken skin-cats abscess very easily. To discipline Scout I give him a stern "NO!" and push on his neck to force him to the floor. I read somewhere that momma cats discipline their young by doing this "not quite a bite" thing to their necks forcing them into a submissive position. If he attacks in a more aggressive way he gets a time out in another room. I can't say this has had any miraculous effect because he still attacks them both. But I try to be consistent with the fact that it is wrong.
In time maybe your girls will just work out the territorial issues on their own. Make sure they have more than one litterbox to choose from so there isn't competition that way. Scout loves to wait and attack Scooby in the litter box which has led to Scooby pooping in the dark corner of the basement. I have 3 boxes downstairs in various areas and one upstairs in the spare bedroom. You don't want potty issues on top of what you're already dealing with.
I've never used Feliway but I've heard only good things about it. It comes in an outlet plug-in and in a collar form I think. Check out Drs Foster & Smith. Our vet carries it also, yours might too.
Ask your vet for advice if you haven't already. Maybe some "chill pills" could get you over the rough stuff.
-sss's mom

AttieCattie said...

try the calming collars. you can gets them in pet stores. they has halped me in the past.

Cat with a Garden said...

We're sorry to hear about the ongoing stress. That's not a nice situation to be in for sure. It seems like you are getting good advice here. Paws crossed for Minnie and Sammi!

las794 said...

We originally meant to introduce them gradually, but circumstances threw us all together in a small house in a short period of time with a lot to do, so "kitty etiquette" had to go by the wayside. We've been keeping a sharp eye on the girls and stopping Sammi from attacking Minnie whenever we spot the warning signs. So far we haven't had to squirt anyone, but I'm sure that day will come! I hunted up a variation on Rescue Remedy (like Feliway, but without the need for a diffuser) to try if the squirt bottle doesn't work; it's expensive, so we'll only go that route if necessary.

They do each have their own litterbox, and there are water bowls all over the house. Their food bowls are together (separated by another water bowl), but, oddly enough, they do OK there, even deigning to eat at the same time occasionally. :)

Shaggy, Scooby and Scout said...

My comments got all screwed up last night. With the he original ones you have here I got a message it was too long to print, but it looks like it went thru anyway. Go figure. when I got the message I re-typed 2 separate comments, but whatever.

Maybe the sharing of food time is a good sign, at least a truce can be called now & then!! I have the feeling it's just going to take a little more time.
They are beautiful girls, if I haven't told you so yet!!

Brookie said...

I had to use the spray bottle with Starrie when we brought Tuffy into the household. A. will remember Starrie. And it did help, but Starrie was also de-clawed. So, while she liked to give Tuffy a really good thumping once in a while, it never truly hurt him, unless she got him with her back claws. I'm sorry Sammi and Minnie are having difficulties! I sure hope, with a little more time, things will smooth out for them!